I was in a my good friends, Brain and Todd Connley’s custom rod building shop “CONNLEY fISHING”  the other day, and was shown a relatively brand new custom rod, that was broken in four pieces. The client who had the audacity to bring the rod back for guarantee replacement, told them it broke on a fish. ‘Well, maybe, but I doubt it very seriously.” Unless some “Bozo” like this guy is on the other end.

I have fished professionally and for fun for over 60 years. I have used rods that were built out of bamboo, split bamboo, metal fishing rods, solid fiberglass rods, hollow fiberglass rods, composite blank rods, graphite rods, and rods made out of tree limbs. I have fished rods from the smallest light tackle spinners and bait casting rods, to the 130lb. IGFA tournament rods, that we tied to the fighting chair gimbels to keep them in the boat. I have caught tens of thousands of fish personally from the thinnest bream to the Blue Marlin, Giant Blue fin tuna, and bull sharks 700 lbs. plus. I have used fishing lines form 2Lb. test to 400 lb. test.

It is my opinion that the toughest pull on a fishing rod that I have ever experienced is that of the Giant Blue fins, which can scream off 500 or more yards of line off a 130lb. stick at 40+ miles per hour, pulling 45 ot 50 lb. of strike drag like its nothing. The toughest “dead” pull is that of a giant 400lb. or more Goliath grouper, which is something like pulling the plug out of the bottom of the ocean.

I spent eight years working head boats as a mate, with an average of 15 to 20 anglers on the rail, two and three trips a day and have coached thousands of beginners on how to fish.

All that said, I have seen maybe a dozen rods break while fighting a fish. I have seen them break in car doors. run over by cars, caught on pilings while docking, broken when clipping a tower leg at strike, etc. But out or the dozen of so I’ve seen break in the heat of battle, the old saying is “KEEP THE ROD RAIL!

Rods are made to bend, butt to tip.They flex to tire a fish out over time. They are made to hold stand up, mount in a rod holder, or fish from a fighting chair gimbel. They are not made to be doubled over a boat rail or gunnel and used as a leverage pole. They will break almost every time. If not the first time. Trust me they will eventually break.

They are made with butt grips and fore grips from which you hold and rod to fight the fish. You should never try to hold the rod from anywhere else. The bend in a rod is a good thing. That mean the rod is fighting the fish for you. Let It bend!

Remember-  You do your job, –  “KEEP THE ROD OFF THE RAIL”, keep you hands in the grips and turn the handle. The rods and reels are made to do the rest.

“Just Sayin”

Captain Mickey Oliphant

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Kite Fishing For Sails – I Get it!


Kite fishing for sail fish can be very exciting, as well as productive during the ‘bite”. No one argues that.

To get to watch a hungry sail fish pursue it’s prey on the surface of the water, swat it into oblivion with it’s bill, and then devour it before your eyes, is truly a thrill. To observe a live goggle eye, or blue runner being pursued, and trying so hard not to be eaten, knowing that the “ink spot below them is on the hunt, is exhilarating to say the least. I get it!

I flew my first kite for sailfish and big smokers back in the mid 1960’s on the head boat “Catchelot” out of Palm Beach Inlet, Florida. Kite’s for fishing were brand new to the market. The technology was not only new, but we had to improvise to make them even fly properly in variable wind conditions. Adjustable bridles came into being! I have fished kites for 50+ years, and have caught hundreds of sail fish using them. Again, I get it!

I have also slow trolled for sail fish with baits in the riggers, baits on balloons, and baits flat lined over the transom. Again, I get it!

What I don’t get, is some of the extremes that some anglers and crews go to today, in order to kite fish, as if that is the only way to catch a hungry sail fish. I see boats with $3,000.00 Lingren Pitman electric kite reels, hauling around kites with 3 foot round helium balloons strapped to their kites in a dead calm, fishing in the fleet all day long, and never seeing a sail fish behind their boat. What’s all that about?

I’ve seen 50+ foot sportfishing boats, with not one but two kites fouled in their riggers, while trying to launch kites in rough seas and swirling winds. I’ve seen kites spiral into the water, only to be changed out for a new kite, which in turn spirals into the water. I’ve seen kites launched, retrieved and relaunched a dozen times, just to get the right altitude the captain or angler wants. I’ve seen sail fish hooked up, with the line fouled in the kite clip, only to drag the kite down into the water, or worse yet, break off the fish. What’s all that about?

Now today, we must have a helium bottle or two on the bridge or under the console, or we cannot sail fish. I’ve watched mates spend 30 minutes or more of valuable fishing time, playing around with a 3 foot round helium balloon, trying to get it bridled properly to a kite, without any baits in the water. In the mean time three other boat in the tournament release several fish a piece slow trolling, or fishing “livies” from riggers. What’s that about?

“Back in the days”, we caught lots of sail fish on dead baits, drifting them flat lined off head boats. We caught them on live bait off piers, and trolling dead baits in sail fish tournaments when live baits were forbidden. For years, all of the world class tournaments in south Florida were dead bait only tournaments, including the Big Daddy of them all, the “Master’s Sailfish Tournament”.

Live bait fishing is what we did when we weren’t tournament fishing; “Just for fun”!

I have caught sail fish out in 400+ feet of water trolling for dolphin in the dead of summer. I have caught them in 25 feet of water while they are raining ballyhoo on the first reef off Palm Beach, and I have caught them on a botttom rig with a raw piece of bonito, while being free spooled to the bottom for snapper. I even caught one in the mouth of the Palm Beach Inlet, in between the rock piles, while trolling home, hoping to catch anything for a charter, after a long day of being skunked. That fish made our day, and went on the angler’s wall.

I guess my point is that Kite fishing for sail fish is fun, and often times worth some additional effort. But Kite fishing is not the end all for sail fishing. To me, it is just as exciting to slow troll for sailfish, when they are tailing down sea in a 8 or 10 foot ground swells, and watching them light up as the captain presents them a trolling mullet, or ballyhoo on a long rigger. A live bait slow trolled from a rigger, can give a similar thrill, as they panic on the surface just before being eaten by that black ink spot below them.

To bait a sail fish off a teaser trolled close to the transom with a flat line, or to emulate a world class angler and tease a sail up three or four times after the fish grabs a long rigger actually requires much more skill than any type of live baiting fishing.

The sail fish that grabs your dead bait, while drifting for kingfish, dolphin, or cobia, provides the same fight as the one caught off a kite flown on a $3,000.00 Lingren Pittman kite reel.
Think about it. Good Fishing!

Just a thought! I get it!

Captain Mickey Oliphant




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The Best New Products for “2014”

Microwave-Connley 1


After 20 years of rod building innovations, and many long hours of theory, design & physical testing, American Fishing Tackle has produced the most revolutionary, dynamic fishing rod guide set to date. It’s called the MicroWave Line Control system.

The brain child of the world re-known professional Bass Professor and longtime TV Host and bass angler, the late Doug Hannon, these guides produce longer casts, better accuracy, and less line friction than any other guide systems.

These guides are called by experts the perfect “line control” system for spinning rods. The system addresses the coiling-memory issues with monofilament fishing lines but it’s ideal for braided lines as well. The difference is really something that has to be felt and seen to be believed. It provides noticeable advantages that standard guide trains cannot by combining science, practical application with custom rod building principles.

Bryan Comnley with Connnley Custom Rods has recognized the advantages of these guides, and has introduced several new “MicroWave” spinning rods and light bait casting rods to his line of custom fishing rods & equipment.

We are please to offer these state of the art rod designs, and custom wraps if desired at Fishing Tackle Depot.

Bryan can build you a custom spinning rod or bait casting rod to you specifications, or you can purchase a ready made rod with the new MircoWave guide system of your choice. Give us a call at (561)-793-8553 or order on line at

Capt. Mickey Oliphant
Fishing Tackle Depot


The “Bass Professor” – The late Doug Hannon – Documented over 800 Largemouth Bass over 10 lbs. caught during his career.


The new revolutionary MicroWave Line Control System

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Often, when watching some of the fine fishing shows on cable television, most of which I enjoy immensely, I watch in total dismay, when many of these “avid” professional anglers break off fish on a regular basis. I don’t get it!

First let me say, having been raised on the waters of South Florida and the Bahamas for over 60 years, my fishing experiences are numerous and span across most fishing venues in those locales. I have caught hundreds of species, and hundreds of thousands of fish in my career as an angler. My experience includes small fresh water pan fish, bass, catfish etc, on cane poles, spinning rods, fly rods, and bait casting rods. I have fished back country, bay flats, piers, jetties, and off shore for big game fish. When I was professional tournament sport fishing we caught big game fish to 600 blue marlin and giant blue fin tunas on 130 lb. curved butt tuna sticks, which we tied to the fighting chairs to keep them in the boat.

My fishing endeavors include years of light tackle fishing, as well as the big game offshore tournament fishing circuits as a professional crewman, both mate and captain. My professional career began at 11 years of age, as a mate on a local head boats, with a rail of up to 104 people per trip, with sometimes two and three trips a day. Enough about me!

I guess my “Pet Peeve” comes from many years of fishing, mating on boats, and educating others how to fish and many levels.

“In my book”- there is usually no excuse for breaking a fish off, unless you are running totally out of line, or the fish is headed towards snags, or other obstructions that will allow him to break you off. Otherwise, “shame on you”

Today, unlike years gone by, we have sophisticated drag systems on reels. These drags include preset strike drags, override drags, and automatic free spools with preset tension. We have lever drags, star drags, and dial up drags. All of which are designed to allow line to spool off the reel when the fish pulls enough to override the amount of drag set on the reel.

Provided the drags are set properly, prior to putting out your baits, there is seldom a reason to ever touch the drag, thumb the spool, or to manually increase the drag. My recommendation; the drags on your reels are there for a purpose. Leave your thumb, your fingers, or hands off the spool. Don’t tighten the drag in the midst of a fight!

Often, beginners become afraid when they see line screaming off a reel. Their first instinct is to tighten the drag, or thumb the spool to try to stop the fish from running. That will break them off almost every time.

Sometimes even the pros think that they can gauge the pull at the hook, by spooling the reel with their hands, fingers or thumb. That’s a mistake and they too break off fish, just watch it on TV.

As a rule of “thumb”, (pardon the pun) a set strike drag should preset at around 30% – 33% of the lb. test breaking strength of the fishing line being used. An example: if you are using 50lb. test line, you can scale a drag at 15lbs. to 18lbs. of drag. If your reel has an override, that drag is used to put more pressure on the fish, usually when he gets tired and closer to the boat. That drag can be as much as 65% to even 70% of the lb. test of the line, depending on the species of fish and their ability to make hot runs after a long battle.

In tournament fishing, we use scales to determine the amount of pull it takes to pull line off the tip of the rod at preset positions. That pull needs to be steady and smooth. A jerking drag is a sign of a drag that needs work.

You must also remember, that all the line a fish pulls off the reel, and then drags through the water behind him, at what ever speed he swims, is increasing the pull at the hook all the time. A set drag at 15lbs of pull off the tip of the rod may increase to 20lbs. or even 30lbs. with a fast running fish and 150 or 200 yards of line being pulled through the water.

I have seen smoker king fish break 12lb. mono on their first run, with our Penn international reel in total free spool.

We estimated a giant blue fin, screaming off 600 yards of line at 40 knots, pulling 45 lbs. of strike drag and all that line through the water, would have at least 100 lbs. of pull or more at the hook.

I once caught a 34lb. Barracuda in the Bahamas on light tackle spinning gear. I only had four wraps of lie left on the reel, when I did “finally” thumb the spool and stopped him. There was less that a foot of line left on the reel.

My counsel to most Anglers, learn to use the drag systems on your reels properly. They are there to let more line go out under pre determined tensions, and that prevents the fish from breaking the line. As long as you have line on your reel, very seldom does the drag need your outside intervention. Just hold your rod upright, and turn the handle when able. Let the fish fight the rod, and let him drag that line through the water. That’s what tires him out so you can eventually catch him!

Maybe, it’s just my pet peeve, but I can honestly say, I rarely break off a fish.

Tight lines and good fishing!

Capt. Mickey Oliphant



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Cudos To Modern Fishing & Broadcasting Technologies

WPTS tarpon-fishing-tournament-boca-grande

Being an avid angler for over 60 years, I truly enjoy the numerous fishing programs that we have available on cable television today. From the WPTS, tarpon tournaments in Boca Grand pass, to Extreme Fishing, Fishing the Flats, and many more, all are entertaining, educational and fun to watch. The videography and the fishing action is usually quality, and the story lines enjoyable. The modern technologies that allow these shows to be broadcast are truly a marvel.
Having fished in some of the same locations and having caught many of the species shown, these type shows bring back fond memories.

Today, with the internet, we have numerous blogs, You Tube videos, and photo galleries of fishing from around the world. Someone makes a nice catch, and within moments, people around the world have a pic or a video of the action, and a blog describing the fight. We live in great times

Having begun my fishing adventures in the freshwater lakes and canals of south Florida at 4 years old, catching bream, shell cracker, catfish, and bass with my Grand Daddy over 60 years ago, I have been blessed with a long life of fond memories, on the water pursuing the fight of a hungry fish. When your career has taken you to the professional ranks of Big Game offshore blue marlin and giant blue fin tunas, you realize that most anglers only get to dream of such experiences.

Thinking of days gone by, the memories are sweet.

When sitting in a bucket harness, with a 12/0 Fin Nor – 2 speed reel on a 130lb curved butt rod, tied to the chair gimbel of the Rybovich fighting chair, (to keep it in the boat), between your legs, you realize, this is a “Big Game” pursuit. The tuna fish pushing down sea behind your bait are 10 to 12 feet long and weight 500+ lbs each. One just boiled on your bait, and you wait!- He’s coming back again. He explodes on your mackerel and yanks you in the air. The 130lb green spot dacron line screams off the reel, and the fight of your life begins. Those were times at Bimini, Cat Cay and West End Grand Bahama at tuna time.

In the “old days” of tournament fishing, if we did not put the Big fish on the scales, they did not count. Before wind on leaders, when our swivels tipped the rod, the fish was still 30 feet behind the boat. As mates, we lived to be the wire man. Wearing two pairs of cotton gloves, one inside the other, you got the great privilege to reach out and begin taking wraps on the .035 wire, or 300 lb. mono leader. It was just you and that 500 or 600 lb.+ blue marlin, tuna fish, or bull shark on the other end. When you were able to wire him within reach, the second mate, or captain stuck him with a 12″ meat hook, fastened to a fly gaff. Most often, he exploded with one more attempt to escape, with you holding on to three wraps of leader material around your hand. Great memories of days gone by.

I think of the days on the flats of the Bahamas, or Florida keys, with family and friends, catching yellow tails, muttons, grouper, sharks, cudas, permits and more. I cherish the days as a mate on head boats with a full rail of anglers and boating 300 to 400 kingfish in a half day trip.

Getting to Fish many of the top tournament anglers in the world at the time, like Jojo Delgerico, Dave Carpenter, and Annie Kunkel, I consider a true blessing. To watch Jojo fight a sailfish on 20lb. line, with barbless hooks, in 12 foot seas, and release him in less than 2 minutes was something to watch. He was a true “Master Angler” of the trade.

I not only thank God for many great memories, but I would like to thank those that film, produce, broadcast and post the many great shows, galleries and blogs that we can enjoy today. Thanks for the technology that makes it all possible.

Captain Mickey Oliphant

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“The Silver Fox” Slams Dock and Sinks at Sail Fish Marina

A sleek 68′ “Scully” sportfisherman the “Silver Fox” slammed into the main dock of the Prestigious Sailfish Marina on Singer Island, Florida this week and sunk after the horrific impact. According to reports, while backing down on the slip, one motor shut down, and the other motor went into full throttle reverse at the same time. The boat slammed first into a piling, then took down a finger pier, and wedged underneath the main dock with the out of control motor still screaming in reverse. The tremendous impact stove in the entire transom, and starboard corner of the cockpit of the boat. It sunk wedged under the dock.

Thankfully no was was injured, and no other boats were involved.

The experienced captain, who was unable to control the boat while shifting levers, and hitting kill switches, was helpless to avoid the crash.

Initial reports indicate that the electronic controls on the bridge may have failed. Fully electronic controls are common on most large modern boats, and have replaced the outdated manual controls with cables. The electronic controls usually work
well, but when they fail, often it is not a pretty scene.

The collision took down a piling, the finger pier, and did some minor damage to the main dock. Seatow was able to raise the boat later the same day, with inflatable airbags, and towed it to the Viking Yacht Marina and Boat Yard in Riviera Beach to be hauled out.

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Fwd: Winners of the 1st Annual Sports Fishing Tournament of Nueva Esparta state – Isla Margarita, Venezuela‏


Great Job Larry! Nice fish – looks like great fun.

Larry’s account:

Dawn patrol – we were up at 2:30 AM on Saturday, and when the horn sounded at 5 AM we took off along with 28 other boats racing in various directions to try to win the very first Nueva Esparta state fishing championship. I had just installed my new seats with a four point harness the week before and I was totally comfortable as we flew across the water at 30-35 knots towards the Los Hermanos islands about 70 miles away (116 km). We arrived there before all the other boats and began to do our “damage” while high-speed trolling for Wahoo. We fished until 2 o’clock and arrived back at the dock after 12 hours and over 150 miles of travel just before the 5 o’clock deadline with our catch: 4 Wahoo,1 Dorado, 3 Albacore and 2 small barracuda. There were a lot of people in the Marina waiting for each boat to arrive and to see all the fish at the weigh-in. When all was said and done we made an almost clean sweep winning five awards: 1st Place overall with 72 kg (158 lbs.), 1st Place biggest fish – Wahoo 25 lbs. caught by Fonsi, 1st Place young fisherman – Nico with 2 Wahoo at 22 pounds each and 1 Dorado at about 22 pounds, and I won the trophy for Sporting Spirit and the Marina presented me with a trophy for Nautical Spirit. The awards were presented that night at the Bora Bora restaurant by the governor of Nueva Esparta state. Our team was definitely the crowd favorite and even the other competitors were happy that we one! The whole team partied until late in the evening, some until the next morning, even though most of us had had only a couple hours of sleep the night before! It was a blast!

I would really like to take this opportunity to thank my whole team and everybody that helped me in one way or another to get the boat ready for the competition – you know who you are! I would especially like to thank my dad, Ed Manes, his friend Hector and my friend Sam for helping me to measure and design the installation of the new seats for the boat. Without all your help and efforts I would never have been able to make this happen! So a giant thank you for that!!

it’s a beautiful world, baby


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Leave it to a Bass to eat a lure that is almost as big as it is!

I had a small but ferocious large mouth bass in a wild fish aquarium literally gorge himself to death years ago.

Over about four months, that bass, about six inches long, had cleaned the tank of all other fish accept a gold shiner, that was almost as big as he was. Amazingly, the bass was being fed Missouri minnows every other day on a regular basis. The issue wasn’t that he was hungry, it was territorial. He became possessed with chasing down and eating everything in that tank.

I watched him chasing that shiner for three days. It was so big I thought, “there is no way he can actually eat that shiner”.

The third evening I watched as he caught the shiner by the head. I quickly disengaged it from his mouth. The shiner, a little dazed, swam away unscathed.

The next morning however, The bass had him again, and had swallowed the head down to the gills. The rest of the shiner was hanging out of his mouth and was dead. The bass was laying on the bottom of the aquarium, could hardly swim with the shiner in his mouth, but was slowly working the huge meal down it’s throat. Over the next day and a half, that bass continued to slowly swallow the shiner. There was nothing I could do to help him at that point.

The bass was able to start swimming again the second day, with nothing but a small portion of the tail hanging out of it’s mouth. I though, “he might pull this off after all!”

But the third day the bass lay dead at the bottom of the tank. The shiner was totally digested, but the largemouth’s lust for that shiner killed him.

There must be a life lesson in that somewhere!

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Fishing Lures Then and Now

mKu8J9OhiufoqWJGWNFk4YAThe Heddon Zara Spook has been in experienced anglers fishing tackle arsenal for over 75 years. The Zara spook #9260 was the plastic version of Heddon’s original Zaragossa #6500 series, which were developed in the early 1920’s.  The original Zaragossa lures were made of wood, and some had natural looking glass eyes.

The design of the Zaragossa and the Zara Spook provides a top water lure that swims in a zig zag motion when retrieved rapidly. The “walk the dog” surface retrieve emulates a wounded bait fish, and hungry predators cannot resist. These lures have been fished successfully around the world for decades. The spooks are deadly for snook, tarpon, jack cravelle, blue fish, stripers, dolphin and more.

The Heddon Zara Spooks are still being made and fished by discriminating anglers today. Many styles and numerous colors of Spooks are manufactured, some of which are now decorated with natural fish looking hologram finishes. The spooks are now made in a saltwater version, and in several sizes from the Baby Zaras to the new saltwater Super Spooks.

I personally have fished Zara Spooks for over 55 years. When catching Jack Cravelles in Palm Beach Inlet back in the mid 1950’s my brother and I would remove the hooks from the lures. When the big Jacks attacked them, we would get the first run out of the fish before they would spit out the hookless spook. That saved us a long grueling battle with a 30 or 40 lb. Jack. We also used the Spooks off the beaches and ocean piers during the fall mullet runs, and caught tarpon, snook and blue fish on them. They are great inshore lures and can be used around docks, seawalls and mangroves for snook tarpon, jacks and more.

Some old vintage style lures just cannot be improved upon. The Zara Spooks are some of those style lures. If you want to buy a truly proven lure with a 75 year history of successes, you cannot go wrong with a Heddon Zara Spook.

You can purchase your Heddon Zara Spooks at Fishing Tackle Depot.


Vintage Zara Spooks



Modern Zara Spooks



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The Alabama Rigs are setting records in Oklahoma


Dale Miller of Panama holds a new state record largemouth bass caught from Cedar                     Lake. It’s the second consecutive year Cedar Lake has produced a state record bass.

Alabama Rigs in Oklahoma

A new lake record largemouth bass (12.3 pounds) was caught March 3rd by angler Billy Lemon on Grand Lake, Oklahoma on an Alabama Rig. The fish won a local tournament. The following week, Lemon won the FLW’s Bass Fishing Tournament on the same lake, catching Almost 20 pounds of fish using the Alabama Rig again. Billy uses the Gene Larew Sweet Swimmers to tip the umbrella wires of the umbrella Rig.

On Wednesday March 20th, angler Dale Miller of Panama caught an Oklahoma state record largemouth bass on an Alabama Rig. Several double digit bass have been caught from Arbuckle on the red hot Alabama umbrella rigs.


A local tournament angler and tackle dealer declares “if you throw it ( the Alabama Rig) at Arbuckle, something’s going to eat it.” Since Lemon’s success, sales of the Alabama Rigs is up over 30 – 40% in the state of Oklahoma. Finding soft baits locally to fish on the Alabama Rigs has become difficult.

The Alabama Rigs are called umbrella rigs due to the five spreader wires that protrude from the head of the lure. Each spreader wire pulls a lure, and when pulled through the water, the rig looks like an entire school of bait fish. The most popular color bait used in the local Oklahoma fisheries is a dark colored back and white belly shad plastic lures.

One caution is that the rig does not do well around weeds or brush piles due to the five hooks in the water at the same time. Experienced anglers recommend using heavier braid than usual, in case it gets hung up. A strong pull can straighten out hooks that may be hung up on snags. One B.A.S.S. Elite Series tournament angler recommends that if the rig gets hung up, you need to go to the lure and pull straight up. It will usually come loose that way.

The Alabama Rigs have caused quite a stir nation wide. Several States have even outlawed them. The B.A.S.S. Elite Series have banned them because anglers have caught so many fish on them.

You can purchase your Alabama Rigs form several popular manufacturers at Fishing Tackle Depot.  (



Catfish like the Alabama Rig too!








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